Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re lucky enough to land yourself a copy of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising, Issue #1 or #2, do yourself a favor and grab it and pick up a few extra for your friends as this one is very hard to come by.  For whatever reason, comic retailers have not ordered big enough quantities.

If you’re not familiar with Terry Moore, his two big series over the past two decades were the mega-hit Strangers In Paradise and the more recent supernatural series Echo.  This year at Comic-Con Moore was selling his how-to ‘zine How to Draw Women.  If there is one thing he knows, it is drawing the female form.  Moore’s style is truly his own–he uses very few lines to capture incredible expressions and emotion in his characters.  I’d put Moore’s women drawings in an exclusive league with Frank Cho and Michael Turner, with Cliff Chiang soon to be a member of that elite group.

In Strangers In Paradise, Moore used a close relationship between roommates to create an ongoing drama that want on to form several volumes.  In Echo, he moved into more of the fantasy realm.  With Rachel Rising, he has landed firmly in the dark, creepy, macabre world of comics.  His art in all three series is black and white–something that might put off readers of other books, but Moore uses black and white’s starkness and contrasts to create a moods you won’t find in DC Comics or Marvel Comics titles.  I haven’t even mentioned yet that Moore is the writer, penciller and inker of his books, which are published by his wife.  Serving triple duty must be tough, but Moore makes it all look easy.

In Issue #1, Rachel wakes up in the woods in a shallow grave.  Over the course of Issue #1 and #2, Rachel encounters people who know her but don’t believe she really is Rachel.  She learns she has lost three days of her life.  Her glowing eyes reveal something, but what that means fully is not yet revealed.  She finds an aunt who she tries to get to help her, but her aunt is a strange breed who claims to see dead people, and as she is a mortician, she gets plenty of opportunity.

Is this going the way of Eliza Dushku’s TV series Tru Calling?  That would be fun.  In Tru Calling she worked in a morgue where dead people talked to her.  Terry’s dark-haired characters look a bit like Dushku.  When Echo came out, I asked Moore about the naming process and he said he was unaware that Dushku was playing a character starting about the same time on Joss Whedon’s short-lived Dollhouse TV series.   All just a crazy coincidence.   I’ll just go out on a limb and nominate Dushku for a role in a future movie based on Moore’s books.

But don’t think Moore’s friendly style is not as ghoulish as the next guy’s stories.  There are plenty of cringeworthy scenes in these first two issues, including the subtle but disturbing aunt who proceeds to perform “mortician’s work” while rambling away with Rachel.  As many questions about Rachel and Company are asked as are answered, so we can look forward to a good progression of story over several issues.

I first met Terry and his wife Robyn, who is the publisher of his books under the Abstract Studios label, at Comic-Con back in 2008 when Echo was released.  I got to Terry’s booth early enough that he spent the Friday sketching his famous characters Francine and Katchoo for me as my favorite superhero team Green Arrow and Black Canary.  Robyn couldn’t be nicer.  My wife and I met up with Terry and Robyn again at Comic-Con this year at Jeff Smith’s 20th anniversary of Bone party (that’s Terry above in San Diego this July), and we had a great time chatting.

I’d hoped to review this series sooner, but could not track down Issue #1.  I finally had to drive three hours away to find a copy of Issue #1 and I am hoping the distributors get their acts together so it will be easier to track down Issue #3, due out soon.

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